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Whitethorn

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,825 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
From Bryce Courtenay comes a new novel about Africa. The time is 1939. White South Africa is a deeply divided nation with many of the Afrikaner people fanatically opposed to the English.

The world is also on the brink of war and South Africa elects to fight for the Allied cause against Germany. Six-year-old Tom Fitzsaxby finds himself in The Boys Farm, an orphanage in a rem
...more
Hardcover, 683 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Penguin Group
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra
Mar 24, 2014 Petra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'm a big fan of Bryce Courtenay's stories. They are full of warm and wonderful people. His descriptions of the land and settings almost puts me there. I would highly recommend many of his works.
But, his Africa books go beyond the storyline. They show the love this man has for his country, his deep understanding of its problems, beauty, flaws and the love he has for the people of Africa. It's this aspect that he brings to the story, without any blubbering or emotionalism, that pushes his Africa
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Monique ~ Sinfully
I fell in love with Bryce Courtenay over 20 years ago with his first novel The Power of One, he will always be one of my most favourite Authors.

I can't even find the words to describe how excellent his command of the English language is, to be able engross me so much in his writing and storytelling. I just love all of his books.

This was a book I listened to on audio and it was told by the amazing Humphrey Bower. His dulcet tones only enhance the story, so much so, I find I am missing him when I
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Steven Langdon
Nov 20, 2011 Steven Langdon rated it liked it
I found "The Power of One" by Courtney an excellent novel -- about Africa and about a young man's coming of age. After a break of many years writing about Australia, "Whitethorn" returns Courtney to South Africa in 2006, after huge political events have transformed the country. So I expected a very different (but very good) novel. But to my surprise, there is a great deal of this book that covers virtually the same ground as the "Power of One," though using somewhat different characters and some ...more
Sharon
May 06, 2012 Sharon rated it liked it
Shelves: tried-failed

Wavered between love and then just boredom.

Gave up at page 350 of 671 pages but did skim read pages to find out what happened to Mattress.

If I had no other book ever to read I think this one would have been a winner as it just took forever to get to the point.
I don't really know why it didn't work as it could have been amazing if it had been condensed. It was just far too lengthy and repetitive for my liking.
Billy
Sep 25, 2012 Billy rated it really liked it
Power cannot be trusted, it will always abuse. Courtenay, having been accused of being communist and exiled from South Africa as a young man, has written some of his experiences into the character of Tom Fitzsaxby, a clever child who we witness develop into a young man in a quest for justice. Along the way Fitzsaxby learns to pull himself up by the bootstraps time and again in a country which reinforces inferiority and is endemically racist. Urbanizing and moving into adulthood, Fitzsaxby learns ...more
Peter
Jan 27, 2013 Peter rated it it was amazing
It was only Bryce Courtenay's death which led me to read this book - the first of his works I have ever tried. Reading his obituary in the Times I was surprised I had never heard of him and wanted to make up for that deficiency.
I'm so glad I did. Whitethorn is a sweeping work which deals with many of the issues of today, set in the recent past of South Africa and Kenya. It's a doorstop of a volume - it could easily have been two or three books - and so it's taken me 3 weeks to find enough time t
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Paddy Willard
Jan 14, 2010 Paddy Willard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another superb book by Courtenay. This story of a white English orphaned boy growing up on a 'Boys Farm' in South Africa offers a great palette to highlight the socio/political landscape of the time. What I found most remarkable about the writing style was that he was able to write in the style according to the age of the main character, Tom Fitzaxby, so we get less detail and clear recollection of events when he is younger and then greater detail and smarter language as he grows up.

A terrific r
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Robert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mikki
Jan 16, 2015 Mikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoy Courtenay's books. Whitethorn was excellent, as usual. He brought the apartheid issues to life in the form of his characters. Some of them suffered under the regime, while others enjoyed and benefited by it. The characters were fleshed out well. I 'read' the audio version, and the narration was just excellent. I don't know how the narrator managed to convey so many different accents and personalities, not to mention gender.

The book was probably longer than necessary. Toward th
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Marissa
Jan 15, 2008 Marissa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
OMG!!! VERY VERY VERY GOOD!! I couldn't put this one down. Yes, i missed my subway stop more than once becuase I was so wrapped up in this one. It took Bryce about a decade to find a way back to write about South Africa again. The Power of One and Tandia were his only books set in S.A., the others all in New Zealand, Australia, and Korea. With Whithorn he revisits many of the themes found in the Power of One. In fact his character, Jack, is eerily similar to Peekay, the protagonist in the Power ...more
Donna Johnson
Sep 10, 2009 Donna Johnson rated it really liked it
This book was excellent, although not as good as The Power of One. One of the frustrations was that the narrator begins as a 7 year old boy. He is a little unreliable because he either forgets important information (and fills in the blanks later) or he rambles on and on about unimportant things - but I guess that's how a 7 year old's mind works. My only other issue with this book was that the ending was very abrupt. Courtenoy builds you up for the ending and the climax takes place in one chapter ...more
Lynn
Jun 15, 2013 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: south-africa, epic
As usual an excellent book by Bryce Courtenay. Mr. Courtenay has a way of getting into a child's head and putting that child's feelings, hurts and joys on paper. Sometimes you laugh out loud and sometimes you just want to slap the adult that has mistreated the child as so many adults did to Jack Fitzsaxby in this book. But most of his child characters go on to become adults that have beat the odds and that is something I enjoy so much about his books. If you read my review of Four Fires, you wil ...more
Debra
Aug 01, 2012 Debra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge Bryce Courtnay fan, and have now read or listened to all but 3 of his works. My favourite has always been the first, The Power of One. However, there is a new candidate for the title. I was absolutely enthralled by Whitethorn, even though I was a little worried by the descriptions of events in Kenya simply because of a British military connection in my family to that conflict.

Humphrey Bower never ceases to amaze me as a reader, and has now become my favourite audiobook narrator. The
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Margie
Jul 04, 2012 Margie rated it really liked it
I'd heard lots of praise for Bryce Courtney and he lived up to all the recommendations. Great piece of historical fiction with wonderful character development. I learned a lot about South Africa and specifically, the movement of the Afrikaners who were so opposed to the colonial power of Great Britain that they (not so secretly) sided with Hitler during the World War II. Young Tom Fitzsaxby grows up in a South Africa which was divided by racial hatred and bigotry yet he manages to survive and pr ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Whitethorn, by Bryce Courtenay, Narrated by Humphrey Bower, Produced by Bolinda Audio, Downloaded from audible.com.

Tom Fitzsacsy English but has not spent any time outside of South Africa and doesn’t speak English. Nonetheless, the Afrikaners consider him to belong to the enemy because he’s English and, treat him to great loneliness and bullying at the orphanage. His only friend is a Black man “the pig boy” who takes care of the pigs on the orphanage farm. This man helps Tom adopt a puppy that w
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Julia
Jul 07, 2015 Julia rated it really liked it
Another engrossing novel by Bryce Courtenay. He is really a master storyteller. Many of his novels take place in Africa, where he comes from and his apparent love for his country shows through in his stories.

This book centers around a young boy, Tom who is placed in an orphanage called The Boys Farm, located in a remote town in the high mountains. The year is 1939 when the nation is divided where many of the Afrikaners are desperately opposed to the English. Tom is an exceptional child with an i
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Mona Ingram
Sep 12, 2011 Mona Ingram rated it it was amazing
Whitethorn is another example of Bryce Courtenay's innate ability to tell a story from the POV of a young boy. When I read this book, which I've done several times, I can see the world through they eyes of six year old Tom Fitzsaxby. The story is poignant in that the young boy accepts the treatment he receives as if it's deserved. It's a heartbreaking, and ultimately satisfying read, one which I highly recommend.
Debbie
Apr 09, 2010 Debbie rated it it was ok
I started out loving this book. Thought it could well end up in my 'must tell everyone about this' category. However, it seemed to repeat the same themes througout. It struck me in the later parts of the book that the author wanted to tell us about the history of Africa and foudn ways to connect the character to that bit in time. I really lost interest in the book which was a shame as it started off so well.
Leslie
Jul 23, 2010 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was given this by a friend, and I absolutely loved it. A bit hard going at times, as the descriptions of the conditions the main character endures are unpleasant, but the character's voice is delightful. I felt I actually heard him growing up. Writing with a child's voice must be difficult at the best of times, but to evolve that voice through a lifetime is a skill I have never encountered before.
Joyce
Feb 06, 2008 Joyce rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
I learned that you cannot control many of the things that happen in your life, but you can control how you react to them. Never underestimate the power of an individual to change his/her own world through a vision, commitment, and perseverance. That is a common theme that runs through many of Courtenay's books and one of the main reasons I enjoy them so much.
Santa Cyopik
Sep 21, 2015 Santa Cyopik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another Courtenay masterpiece.....such a pleasure to read all 671 pages...bit disappointed in the ending ..but still loved the book.
Jeanie
Nov 23, 2014 Jeanie rated it really liked it
Borrowed this book from my husband while on vacation. Not my typical book selection. Has a slow start but gradually builds to a finish with a happy ending.

It's the story of a young orphan boy and the man he grows up to be through all his trials and tribulations. An event happens to him while at "The Boys Farm" that changes his life forever. That event shapes him and drives him to what he ultimately wants to be and do.

Set in South Africa, after WWII, politics and discrimination are at the forefr
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Wilma Rebstock
Sep 29, 2012 Wilma Rebstock rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book. It is very much like THE POWER OF ONE which is a bit distracting. I "read" the audible edition though, read by the wonderful Humphrey Bower who in my mind is unsurpassable. So this was a great read. I love the novels by Bryce Courtenay and I think he is the best writing today.
Hergun
Sep 19, 2015 Hergun rated it really liked it
good book
Anne R
Jul 26, 2009 Anne R rated it it was amazing

Beautifully written. I could not put it down.
For anyone who has had any contact with South
Africa it will bring back memories (good and bad).
Max Burt
Jan 24, 2012 Max Burt rated it did not like it
A rehash of The Power of One. For the longest time I actually thought I was re-reading the same book. Quite disappointing.
Debra
Jul 30, 2015 Debra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
I listened to Whitehorn on disc 20 in all. The reader was excellent and made the story and characters come alive. Some stories are meant to be listened to and this is one. Tom is the orphan boy that survives and seeks justice for his first friend, Mattress, a black man caring for the orphanage 's livestock. The reader gains a better understanding of South Africa in the '40s and 50's. What happens to Tom might be at times unbelievable but that is why it is called fiction. I cheered all the way th ...more
Debby
Dec 27, 2013 Debby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I've read "The Power of One", "The Potato Factory" and "Tommo and Hawk". Correction-- I have "listened" to each of these books, because I'm a fan of Humphrey Bower. Mr. Bower is one of my favorite audible narrators of all time, and I thoroughly enjoyed each of these books. I love Humphrey Bower's voice, and how he makes so many of the characters come alive.
This book is, so far, one my favorite of Bryce Courtenay's. (I have yet to read the rest of his books.)
It's sad to read that Mr. Courtenay
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Noel
Courtenay hits another book out of the ballpark with this novel, even though it's the same ballpark and players as his novel The Power of One -- which is and remains one of my top ten all time favorite books.

Tom Fitzsaxby narrates the story as an onlooker to his own life, starting when he was just a child of 5 or 6 struggling to stay unbruised at an orphanage where, by the mere Englishness of his name, he was tormented by Afrikaners who had grown up learning to hate and resent all things English
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Johnsergeant
Oct 03, 2013 Johnsergeant rated it it was amazing
Narrated by Humphrey Bower

24 hrs and 33 mins

Publisher's Summary

From the author of The Power of One comes a new novel about Africa. The time is 1939. White South Africa is a deeply divided nation with many of the Afrikaner people fanatically opposed to the English. The world is also on the brink of war, and South Africa elects to fight for the Allied cause against Germany. Six-year-old Tom Fitzsaxby finds himself in The Boys Farm, an orphanage in a remote town in the high mountains, where the Afr
...more
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I was born illegitimately in 1933 in South Africa and spent my early childhood years in a small town deep in the heart of the Lebombo mountains.

It was a somewhat isolated community and I grew up among farm folk and the African people. At the age of five I was sent to a boarding school which might be better described as a combination orphanage and reform school, where I learned to box - though less
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